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Results of inpatient survey show the case for safe staffing is undeniable When are we going to learn lessons from the national NHS inpatient survey, published at the end of last month by the Care Quality Commission, which shows standards are sub-optimal in our cherished NHS? The latest survey, which looked at the experiences of more than 59,000 people admitted to an NHS hospital in 2014, provides further evidence that a lack of nursing staff is affecting patient care. More than 40% of respondents said there were ‘sometimes or rarely or never’ enough nurses on duty to care for them; 42% experienced discharge delays, with 61% saying this was because they were waiting for medicines; and a third said they were not given any written or printed information about what they should or should not do after leaving hospital. These outcomes illustrate a nursing workforce under pressure, resulting in an inefficient and ineffective NHS that is missing its targets and becoming financially embarrassed. Unless action is taken to mandate safe staffing ratios of nurses to patients, and there is proper investment in the nursing workforce, these national survey results will remain the same. They will just become a time-wasting bureaucratic inconvenience for patients, and a waste of taxpayers’ money. Susan Osborne, chair of the Safe Staffing Alliance

ENTIRE NHS WORKFORCE NEEDS TO UNITE AGAINST THIS GOVERNMENT As an ordinary NHS nurse and doctor, we are angry and want people to know the truth about what the government is doing to our NHS. So here is our suggestion to the RCN: stop. Stop trying to explain things to politicians – they obviously aren’t

listening and will push ahead regardless with underfunding, demonising and privatising our wonderful NHS. They appear to want a US healthcare model, where treatment is based on who can pay rather than who is sickest. Instead of trying to work with politicians, work with us, the hardworking nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals of the health service. Work on uniting us so we are a single, determined voice for the NHS. Politicians think we will give up. They think we are intimidated and apathetic. So use the power of your organisation to let us prove to them they are wrong, and they cannot do this without us. We must have the courage to fight – fight for our jobs, our patients, and for the NHS. If we don’t get this right now, there will be nothing left to fight for. Karen Chilver, community Macmillan nurse, and Zoe Norris, GP, via email

THE NHS IS ALREADY A SEVEN-DAY SERVICE, PRIME MINISTER I have been slightly nonplussed by nurses’ reactions to prime minister David Cameron’s announcement about the ‘seven-day NHS’. My first thought was, it already is. Fair enough, weekends are quieter, but nurses are still busy. But I soon noticed there wasn’t a massive hue and cry from nurses stating this, just muted responses on social media. This was brought home to me the other day at my local garden centre when I was chatting to a retired nurse. She told me she had been having a go at her Conservative councillor about the seven-day NHS, and accused David Cameron of trying to score cheap political points. ‘Why imply the NHS is only available Monday to Friday? Do nurses sleep through every Saturday and Sunday?’ she said. She thinks nurses need to be more vocal about this, and I have to agree

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to hear that the hospital is offering them support (News, May 27). To know you have unwittingly administered poison to patients you are trying to help cannot be an easy burden to bear. These nurses are also victims of Victorino Chua, and it is important they receive the help they need to move forward. It is unfortunate that our position, working with vulnerable people, can attract individuals like Chua. Following major events like this in the past, nurses relied on each other for support, as they do now. But there is also greater recognition these days that nurses might be in need of as much support as their patients following difficult times. My heart goes out to the nurses affected by Chua’s actions, and I applaud Stepping Hill for giving them the support they deserve.

with her. Although concerns have been expressed about cuts to unsocial hours pay, there has been no wholescale protest about the NHS already being a seven-day service, at least as far as nursing is concerned. We need to make our voices heard on this issue. We remain silent at our peril. Zeba Arif, via email

I WAS ATTACKED FOR CHALLENGING THE VIEWS OF A MEDICAL MINORITY I have recently come under attack for daring to disagree with those in power about what makes a difference to people with dementia. This has been especially unpleasant because it has involved medical professionals operating, for the most part, as a group under cover of anonymity on social media. So this letter is a ‘thank you’ to the anonymous nurses who sent me messages of support when I was attacked for challenging the nihilism of a minority of our medical colleagues, who choose not to reveal a diagnosis of dementia because they don’t think there is anything that can be done for those patients. The 25th anniversary of the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling is being marked by the Dementia Festival of Ideas, a year-long, wide-ranging, creative exploration of what dementia means to us all. One key element of this is The Big Ask, a survey to find out more about what people think about dementia. I have complete academic protection to speak out, but not everyone is so lucky. So please use this link (www.surveymonkey.com/s/ dementiathebigask) to take part in the survey and help us to shape what people think about dementia. Let’s not be silenced. ProfessorJune Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling

Grant Byrne, third-year nursing student, University of Glasgow Facebook “f ” Logo

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What you’re saying on our Facebook page... ON WHETHER THE NHS STUDENT BURSARY SHOULD BE SCRAPPED ■ I left a well-paid, full-time position to retrain to become a nurse because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Even with the bursary I can barely survive. So how can they possibly talk about getting rid of it?

Surely branch structure is a convenience for nursing not patients who often have combination of conditions rarely one. #nscomment @NScareersEd

Perhaps – but these specialties exist for a reason. Combining could lead to a watering down of knowledge @GGByrneSTN

The branch system does make holistic care more of an ideal than reality – needs to change @annedraya

If current system not fit for purpose then my training and qualification means nothing. Let’s avoid demeaning ourselves! @edfreshwater

They missed an opportunity to add a specialism in the Care of Older People, leaving them undervalued again @YFESue

Care of elderly isn't really a specialism. You encounter elderly people in all specialisms (except paeds)

Hannah Sullivan


■ I have yet to meet a single student nurse, myself included, who would say a pitiful bursary amount per month is their incentive for undertaking a nursing degree.

But are the elderly getting the best care as a result of being classed as ‘general’?

Lee Brisbane

Age is much less defining these days, a well, positive 75 year old can match an ill, negative 60 Y old

■ If it’s scrapped then student nurses should be paid a working wage. Hannah Omar

VICTORINO CHUA’S EX-COLLEAGUES DESERVE SUPPORT FOR THEIR ORDEAL I cannot imagine how the nurses caught up in the events at Stepping Hill Hospital must feel, but I am heartened


■ To scrap the bursary would be suicide. The only way around it would be to pay student nurses a wage. Adam Mundell



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The NHS is already a seven-day service, prime minister.

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